Frontiers of Complexity: The Search for Order in a Chaotic World

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In this groundbreaking new book, Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield, the scientist coauthors of the highly praised The Arrow of Time, explore how complexity in mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, and even the social sciences is transforming not only the way we think about the universe, but also the very assumptions that underlie conventional science.

In this groundbreaking new book, two highly praised scientist/authors take us on an unforgettable journey through...

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Overview

In this groundbreaking new book, Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield, the scientist coauthors of the highly praised The Arrow of Time, explore how complexity in mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, and even the social sciences is transforming not only the way we think about the universe, but also the very assumptions that underlie conventional science.

In this groundbreaking new book, two highly praised scientist/authors take us on an unforgettable journey through mathematics, physics, biology, and chemistry to see how complexity is transforming the way we think about the universe and the very assumptions that underlie science. 8-page color insert.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Coveney and Highfield, scientist and journalist, respectively, who collaborated on the acclaimed The Arrow of Time, have composed a marvelous and comprehensive work explaining recent insights into the genesis and analysis of complexity. ``Within science, complexity is a watchword for a new way of thinking about the collective behavior of many basic but interacting units, be they atoms, molecules, neurons, or bits within a computer.'' The interactions can ``lead to coherent collective phenomena''-profuse in the real world and ranging from human brain function to the setting of concrete- which the book considers in some depth. The authors emphasize interdependence of advances in computing, as well as in conceptualizing complexity, then describe a new generation of approaches for developing artificial intelligence and for viewing life itself. This articulate and exceptionally readable account elucidates a new field that transcends old boundaries between disciplines and that may have the most far-reaching impact of all contemporary basic research. Virtually any scientist or interested lay reader will find this book engrossing, edifying and inspiring. Illustrations. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Coveney and Highfield, coauthors of The Arrow of Time (LJ 6/15/91), rigorously examine the concept of complexity in such scientific disciplines as mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. Stating that the scope and significance of complexity extend far beyond the concept of chaos, the authors assert that complexity represents a fundamental move away from the reductive principle that has served as a cornerstone of science over the centuries. They trace and illustrate this evolution from reductionism to complexity in the works of influental scientists such as Babbage, Boole, Gdel, Von Neumann, and Turning. Their discussion is presented within an informative and stimulating philosophical context. This work is an excellent addition to the current literature of complexity, one of the emerging scientific disciplines. While rigorous in scope and treatment, its presentation is clear. Recommended for scholars, specialists, and informed lay readers.Donald G. Frank, Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta
Booknews
Coveney (Schlumberger Cambridge Research Laboratory) and Highfield (science editor, The Daily Telegraph) illuminate the science of complexity, the study of how single elements organize into complicated structures. They trace how key researchers built on each other's work, chart the rise of the electronic computer and a new generation of computers that run on light, and discuss computer simulations. Includes color illustrations. Of interest to general readers and professionals in science and mathematics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Brenda Grazis
The authors' thesis is that the complexities of nature can be understood only by investigating the collective behavior of many simple, interacting components. Thus, fluid dynamics cannot be explained by studying lone water molecules nor can brain capability be understood by examining isolated cellular activities. Because the study of such "emergent" behavior is dependent upon computer-generated modeling of complex phenomena, the rapidly evolving power of computer technology is detailed. Also integral to modeling emergence is the problem-solving ability of complex biological systems, and such derivative schemes as genetic algorithms and evolutionary algorithms are examined, as are a multitude of futuristic tools and techniques, such as "neuromorphics" to process electrical signals in a silicone brain, cellular automata to determine the strength of cement, and simulated annealing to reconstruct geological data from seismic waves to detect hydrocarbons. Familiarity with science, math, and computers will be useful to the reader.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449908327
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/3/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 6.45 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.56 (d)

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